5 Things About Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

November 24, 2015 Review 36 ★★★½

5 Things About Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Source: Purchased
Pages: 608
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Survival Stories, Young Adult
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes

aliseIt is like no other.

You’ve probably heard by now, but ILLUMINAE is written in an incredibly unique way: “Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more…” It is very creative, and unlike anything I’ve seen before: some pages are in black, some you have to tilt your head to read, some are in chat form, etc. Trying to tell a story in such a way must have been a tremendous undertaking and a challenging task; you can tell a lot of thought went into it. View Spoiler »

The suspense kept me reading.

Due to the formatting I mentioned above, you experience this story right alongside the characters, as though you are right there with them. Stakes feel high, and they are-thousands of lives are at risk. It keeps you on your toes, wondering what will happen next and entices you to keep reading to find out what happens.

I was somewhat detached from the story.

Can the artificial intelligence system have more character development than the actual characters? (Apparently, yes.)  Because we are basically reading documents and conversations explaining what is going on, there is a certain sort of detachment, like we are observers. It also didn’t allow me to connect to the characters, I wasn’t all that invested in what happened to them personally and thought they were a bit bland.


The romance felt inauthentic.

It might be because I couldn’t connect to the characters, but I didn’t believe in this romance in this book either. The banter between the two main characters, while humorous at first, became a little annoying and too immature for my tastes. AM I TOO OLD? They start off broken up and upset at each other, as explained in the blurb, but there was no in-between stage of them building up their relationship again. It didn’t sound like their reasons for breaking up were addressed so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that drama carried over into the next book. View Spoiler »

The grand reveal was astonishing.

Once everything started to come together and the truth was revealed, I had even more respect to how the story was told. It’s actually pretty ingenious, not to give too much away. I’m still not entirely sure what happened exactly, but all the information to connect the dots is provided.


While it was a visually beautiful and creative novel, I couldn’t get into the actual story ILLUMINAE was telling. I will still probably check out the sequel though, and would still recommend this one purely for the experience it provides.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.5

36 Responses to “5 Things About Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff”

    • Alise

      I would still recommend it because it is so unique, but I do wish the characters had been fleshed out a little more.

  1. Greg

    I liked Kady, liked Ezra for the most part, and I like the way the story was structured too- the area that I didn’t like was the AI. Not the idea of it, but the execution didn’t work for me. I had a hard time getting into it and as time went on I thought the AI stuff started dominating the book- all his internal musings irritated me after a while. I might be in the minority but I was never interested in the AI as a “person”.

    Still I recommended it because it’s unique. Nice review! :)
    Greg recently posted…Top Ten Places I’d Like to Eat Turkey

    • Alise

      That’s really interesting because I was the opposite :P I think I liked the AI because we got to see what exactly it was thinking, as opposed to the two main characters we just read what they are doing. Same! Thank you!

  2. Amanda @ Nellie and Co.

    I’m half bummed you didn’t love this, and pleased too because finally somebody isn’t shouting about this from the rooftops, I need some realistic expectations if I’m ever going to try it, you know? Everyone going ‘THIS BOOK IS AWESOME’ is scary.. So, thank you. Also, that spoiler snippet, so pretty!
    Amanda @ Nellie and Co. recently posted…5 More Reasons I Get Put Off Your Blog

    • Alise

      I know what you mean, I’m the same way-I like to gather all of the different opinions. The hype can definitely be scary!

  3. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Aww, I’m sorry that you weren’t blown away by this one Alise, but I am glad that you were able to enjoy it all the same! To be honest, for me it feels good to see a review that isn’t all-out glowing for a change – it’s like you’ve instantly lessened the pressure for me to ADORE this one now! In any case, I can’t wait to experience its uniqueness for myself :) Wonderful review! xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday *120*

  4. Anissa

    I’ve seen so much of this book everywhere, but I still don’t want to pick it up. It doesn’t seem too enticing… The only reason I’d give it a go would be because of the formatting! But I sneakily had a look at the spoilers and hmm… Let’s just say I might (or might not *ahem*) give this a go in the future! xD Great review as always Alise – I really like how you separate everything into points!
    Anissa recently posted…Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

    • Alise

      Haha, yeah, I can’t blame you-the formatting is great. If you do, let me know! Thank you! It’s easier to write the review that way too xD

  5. Sarah J.

    I agree completely with your review! I thought it was odd how much development went into AIDAN’s development and after a while those sections seemed to drag on. I really think the ending was wrapped up well. I’m curious to see how the second book connects to the first since it will be from different characters’ perspectives.
    Sarah J. recently posted…Goosebumps Read-A-Long Wrap-up Video

    • Alise

      Me too, I had the same experience. I thought AIDAN was the most interesting xD

      Katy wasn’t too bad, although I didn’t care for the romantic interactions between her and Ezra.

  6. Peach @ Rebelle Reads

    I just can’t get into Illuminae and I feel kinda bad(ish?) because almost everyone has snatched it by now besides me. I saw it in Target the other day and the hardcover is super cool, though. It’s full of interesting graphics and the turnout sounds interesting, but I’m still a little iffy about it. Literally LOL @ the romance excerpt. Trying. Too. Hard. The tight pants quote reminds me of Cricket from Lola and The Boy Next Door. haha.
    Peach @ Rebelle Reads recently posted…Is There An Age Limit To Certain Genres?

    • Alise

      I bought my copy at Target :P But I feel you, I picked it up because of the hype and was a little disappointed. YESSSSS, thank you!

  7. Ebony @ Fictionally Florence

    I’ve heard split reviews about this so far – people either seem to be quite disappointed or they absolutely LOVE it. I’ve read more of the latter. Ever since I heard about this at the launch for This Shattered World and the final book of Kristoff’s Japanese trilogy, I’ve been really intrigued by it, and I must say, your thoughts on it have intrigued me even more – thanks for sharing, Alise. :)
    Ebony @ Fictionally Florence recently posted…Sarah J. Maas Melbourne Event Recap

  8. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    I am currently reading this and so far it’s great. I really like the uniqueness of the reading experience. So sad that you didn’t quite connect to it. But I guess this format is a love/hate kind of thing.

    I met Jay and Amie earlier this month on their tour and they were super awesome!

    Plus, I was so happy to tell them that I have the same name as Ezra… :)
    Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA recently posted…Write On Review-a-Thon: November

    • Alise

      I’m really glad you are liking it! I loved the format but I guess it kind of stopped me from connecting to the characters as I’m used to first person narration.

      That’s so cool! :)

  9. Lisa

    I’m glad that the ending sounded good, and the writing was well done!
    Despite the split reviews, I’ll still be checking this novel out because I’m curious about all the hype :P
    Also, it’s great that you take the time to reply to every single comment on your blog!
    Thanks for all you do :D
    Lisa recently posted…Life Update: End of the Year Rush

    • Alise

      It’s definitely worth a read, if just for the really unique way it’s written. I hope you like it! Of course, thanks :D

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